The prevailing drought conditions and long-term forecast for little to no rain combined with high winds has prompted the NSW Rural Fire Service to bring forward the start to the bushfire danger period in Port Stephens.
For a second consecutive year, the bushfire danger period in the Port will start on September 1, one month prior to the typical start of October 1, and end March 31, 2020.
During this period, anyone looking to carry out burning activities must have a fire permit from the RFS.
"The indications are that we're not getting any significant rain over the next couple of months and as we lead into those hotter parts of spring we could definitely see some some elevated fire dangers and weather conducive with fire," Superintendent Martin Siemsen, RFS district manager for Lower Hunter, said.
"It's really pertinent for everyone to be bushfire ready but particularly those who live in fire frequent areas like Port Stephens that they prepare their properties."
Superintendent Siemsen said the dry weather and lack of rain during autumn and winter had dried out bushfire fuels such as leaves and sticks on the ground.
This combined with knowledge that it is the time of year when property owners begin burning off fire fuels, Superintendent Siemsen said the RFS thought it would be best to begin the bushfire danger period early.
"What this does is allows us to issue fire safety permits to property owners that wish to burn and we can monitor and control this activity and ensure it's safe," he said.
"There's less opportunity for that fire to get out of control."
Raymond Terrace RFS captain Kevin Farraway urged Port residents to prepare for the bushfire season now.
"There are simple things you can do now to get ready for bush fire season," he said.
"Talk with your family about your bush fire survival plan, prepare your home or property, know the bush fire alert levels and make sure you know where to get information during a fire."
Members of the Raymond Terrace RFS played a role in fighting the Port's last major fire, which spread through Medowie, Campvale and Salt Ash in November 2018.
Last year, the brigade responded to 120 emergencies, ranging from bushfires to motor vehicle accidents.
Raymond Terrace RFS is seeking more members to join its ranks.
Currently it has 37 members aged between 18 and 70.